Maria Celeste-Johnson put on some dazzling basketball moves while scoring a game-high 22 points to lead the Briarwood Academy Lady Buccaneers over the Piedmont Academy Lady Cougars 49-35 on Tuesday, Jan. 4.
"Maria played a real complete game, I thought," said Briarwood Academy head coach Clayton Parrish.
"She knows the game pretty well and really came through for us against Piedmont."
Johnson, the team's senior point guard, tallied 11 first-half points, 9 of which she scored in the second quarter.
With the victory, Briarwood Academy's overall win-loss record increased to 7-3 and 1-1 in Region 1-AA play.
Coach Parrish attributed the win to outstanding play on the part of his team.
"I thought we played very well defensively," coach Parrish said. "We kept them contained, and that's what we wanted to do."
Offensively, the Lady Buccaneers got off to a sluggish start.
After Emily Henderson connected for the team's first basket of the game, Briarwood went a little more than three minutes before hitting another hoop.
And again, it was Henderson, a senior, getting the job done -- hitting her second basket with 3:22 left in the first quarter.
About a minute later, Briarwood freshman Tiffany Pate made a steal and hit a basket from close range, which cut Piedmont's lead to 8-6.
In the process, she was fouled. It resulted in her going to the free-throw line and hitting another shot that made it an 8-7 game.
After Piedmont turned the ball over, Johnson quickly dribbled the ball down court and hit her first field goal of the game. It also gave the Lady Buccaneers their first lead of the game, 9-8.
In the second quarter, Johnson took total control of the game from an offensive standpoint. She tossed in 9 points during that eight-minute span.
At halftime, the Lady Buccaneers led 27-19.
Johnson returned to form in the third quarter as she hit a field goal with 6:11 left that gave the Lady Bucs a 10-point lead, 31-21.
Going into the fourth and final quarter, Briarwood held a 36-25 lead.
With 4:13 remaining in the game, Johnson hit a jump shot that made it 43-29.
The basket by the Briarwood star resulted from a beautiful pass from Maggie Keene, who also is a senior.
Pate ended up scoring 9 points, and Henderson had 7 points.